“Valentine, Will You Be Mine?”
by Denise Daubert, Feb 2012
Each year for the past several centuries, February 14th has been a meaningful date. The significance? Valentine’s Day of course! A special day to remember those we love and admire.
Walk into any greeting card, department or drug store, right after December’s Boxing Day Week sales are over — all these stores are promoting Valentine’s Day with racks of greeting cards and shelves showcasing gifts. Hearts, cupids, doves and lots of red and pink abound.
You can buy a Valentine card for your husband, your daughter or to give to a friend. There are cards for aunts, babies celebrating their very first Valentine’s Day, godparents and grandchildren. Then, there’s an array of cards designed for people celebrating a Valentine birthday or anniversary.
Some cards are sentimental. Some are humourous. And interestingly, Valentine’s Day card annual sales come in just slightly behind Christmas card sales, making them the second largest sellers even ahead of Mother’s and Father’s Day cards.
Today, some people choose to send ecard Valentine greetings to family and friends (and sweethearts!); ecards are becoming big business.
To accompany greeting cards, you can choose from heart-shaped boxes of chocolates, bouquets of roses, or jewelry as gifts.
To mark Valentine’s Day couples may go out for a romantic supper. Even Boston Pizza locations get in on the action by doing a brisk business selling heart-shaped pizzas each February 14th. Elementary school children have classroom parties with a Valentine exchange being the most anticipated part of the party.
That’s Valentine’s Day today — what about Valentine Days of the past?
I have often enjoyed looking at a unique stand-up Valentine that belonged to my dad when he was a little boy. It was given to him by his mother in .... Also, one of my scrapbooks holds Valentine cards from my childhood; I cherish each and every one of them.
I was thus curious about, not only the history of Valentine’s cards, but also how my ancestors might have marked Valentine’s Day in their time.
Origin of Valentine Cards
The history of giving and receiving Valentine cards dates back several centuries. If you’re fortunate, you have some Valentine that belonged to your ancestors (with a big ‘genealogy thank you’ here to great grandparents, grandparents and parents who kept family papers in safe places). Greeting cards are primary sources — signatures and the messages within these cards are the handwriting of your ancestors. If you have any handmade Valentine cards, then they too are primary sources.
Read more about the origins of Valentine’s Day, its trans-Atlantic commercial voyage to North America and the genuine meaning of the family collection these cards left on the author, and even you! Relatively Speaking, February 2012.
You may also be interested in:
“Lost Treasures of Mrs. Henry (Eva) Manning”—Peter Staveley, Feb 2007
“Mementoes”—Marilyn Hindmarch, Nov 2013
“An 1855 Valentine Card Found in a Wee Envelope”—Claudine Nelson, Feb 2014